Diversity and Inclusivity in the Classroom Environment
We are all born with the potential to be great. In order for that potential to flourish, students need an environment where their differences are celebrated and where they can learn from each other. A diverse classroom allows students to see how their identities relate to others in positive ways, which leads them into a lifelong journey of understanding themselves better.
Diversity in the classroom is an important part of cultivating inclusive academic environments. We’ve all heard about how diverse teams are more likely to reach their goals, but what does that mean for diversity in schools? What can teachers do to make their classrooms feel like a safe space for students who do not identify as white or male? Here’s what you need to know about inclusion in the classroom and how you can help your students thrive through it.
What are Diversity and Inclusivity?
Diversity is the variety of people, cultures and ideas that make up a community. Diversity in education refers to the inclusion of students from different backgrounds, cultures, races and ethnicities into schools or classrooms. Inclusivity refers to the actions taken by an individuals or organizations that promote social justice by ensuring equal access for all members of society regardless of their identity. This includes race or ethnicity, gender identity and sexual expression. Inclusive practices are designed with an understanding of how power dynamics affect individuals differently depending on their identities within systems such as education institutions. Educators need to understand how diversity impacts learning so they can provide an inclusive learning environment for all students regardless of their background or identity.
Exposure to Diversity at an Early Age Helps Students Succeed
As a teacher, it is your responsibility to make sure that every student in your class feels valued and respected. This can be difficult when you are instructing students from different backgrounds and cultures, who may have vastly different experiences than yourself. However, by implementing diversity into your classroom curriculum, you can help ensure that everyone feels included in the learning process. Students with diverse backgrounds are more likely to succeed if they are exposed to diversity at an early age. By exposing them early on in their academic careers and making sure they feel comfortable asking questions or sharing their opinions about sensitive topics like religion or politics, teachers will create an open environment where all students feel welcome regardless of their background or beliefs.
Teaching Techniques that Focus on Diversity and Inclusivity
Teaching techniques and lessons that focus on diversity and inclusivity help students learn how to treat each other with respect and acceptance. Diversity is important for all people, but it’s especially important for children who are still developing their social skills.
Teachers can use a variety of methods when teaching about diversity, including:
- Reading books about different cultures or ethnicities (or even getting the whole class to read the same book)
- Discussing stories from the news related to racial discrimination or inequality between different groups in society (e.g., racism against African Americans by police officers)
- Having students do research on a specific culture or ethnic group and then present their findings to the class, discussing issues such as stereotypes, racial discrimination or gender inequality.
Tools to Support Teachers with Diversity and Inclusivity in the Classroom
When at school an inclusive environment extends from the classroom to students’ time online. Teachers look to create an atmosphere where everyone is included, but establishing an inclusive space online can be tricky to oversee. The online world can often be a place where kids can exclude others, or used to cyberbully those who may be different. Supporting schools with tools like Netsweeper’s onGuard allows for real-time, comprehensive monitoring, reporting, and alerting of student activity giving time for early intervention of inappropriate or risky behavior. onGuard detects keywords and phrases, recognizing the warning signs of issues such as cyberbullying or violence. This helps teachers to keep students safe proactively, both online and offline, while also fostering an inclusive learning space.
A Diverse Classroom Creates an Inclusive Environment
As educators, you have a responsibility to create spaces where all students feel safe, welcome, and able to learn ensuring schools are free from discrimination and harassment. A classroom that is diverse creates an inclusive environment for all students. Diversity is the variety of people and perspectives in the classroom, while inclusivity involves making sure that all students feel welcome and able to contribute their unique talents. Although diversity and inclusivity are two different concepts, they both play a very important role in creating a positive learning environment where everyone can succeed.